“Jesus, Kacy, it’ll be a bugger identifying this one.”
Under normal circumstances, my partner, Dave Capello, would have had a point. The body had washed up from the icy depths of the Chicago River near the fork of Eleanor and Loomis, and the call had come in minutes before quitting time. Dave had wanted to ignore it. For once, I wished I’d listened to him. A blowtorch had been used on the face, and all the fingers were missing. The angles of the arms and legs told me bones had been broken.
I didn’t need the ME to tell me the identity. Nor did I need to see the small skull tattoo above his left ankle to verify it. Kyle and I had never shared the twin bond in life, but as I stared down at his tortured and mutilated body, I realized a part of me was missing. I’d never considered it a vital part—until now.
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“You’ve reached the residence of Detective Kacy Lang. I can’t come to the phone right now because it’s Saturday. My first day off in two months, and I don’t give a big rat’s ass who’s dead.”
Giggles came through the line.
“Jesus, Lang, you’re a potty mouth even on your birthday.” Dave Capello chuckled softly. “Martha and the girls wanted to say happy birthday before they catch the plane to visit Grandma and Grandpa.”
“Happy birthday, Aunt Kacy.”
“Aww… you guys are so sweet. Thank you. Have fun on your trip.”
I held the phone away from my ear as more giggles and a few squeals erupted.
“Settle down back there!” Dave yelled. “You free for dinner? Buy you a burger?”
I hated lying to Dave. My plans for the day were to do absolutely nothing except wallow in misery. In my case, misery did not love company. “Sorry, partner, but I have a date.”
“A date? With who?”
“It’s whom, and that falls under need to know.” I could hear Martha’s laughter in the background. She loved it when I put Dave in his place. “You don’t need to know. See you Monday.”
I ended the call before he could go into full interrogation mode, picked up my fresh cup of hazelnut coffee, and headed for my favorite spot on the back porch. I’d spent the last hour pulling weeds and rubbing my lower back. Weeks of work and a thousand dollars had turned the small patch into what my psychiatrist called a meditation garden. Propping my feet on the ottoman, I leaned back in the chair. Bastard should have called it a chiropractor garden with all the damn weeds I have to constantly pull.
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“Seriously, Lang, you named your dog Butter?” Dave Capello rolled his eyes as I slipped into the passenger seat and buckled my seatbelt. “What kind of name is that for a dog?”
“He likes it. Besides, Greg has Popcorn.” I grinned. “You know, Popcorn and Butter?”
“Jesus.” Dave honked the horn. “What’s taking Stevens so long?”
“I stuck my tongue down his throat and ripped his clothes off. He’s still getting dressed.”
“I think I liked it better before you two started dating.”
“We’re not dating. We’re just friends with benefits.” I turned away, so Dave couldn’t see the laughter in my eyes. “You told me to get laid.”
Dave switched the subject, a telling red flush creeping up his neck. “Did Park say what he wanted?”
“No, just that he wanted to see us first thing this morning.” Greg came out the front door, two tiny balls of fluff nipping at his heels. “Park said he’d explain when we got there.”
“How’s your gut?”
I frowned. “My gut?”
“Yeah, your gut. Something bad coming down or just your everyday murder waiting on us?”
Greg climbed in the back seat and Dave backed out of the drive. My sixth sense wasn’t kicking in, but I knew why he was asking. “I think we’re good this time.”
“I hope so.” Dave said. “Sick of demons and crazy serial killers.”
I met Greg’s gaze in the rearview mirror. “Dave thinks I’m psychic.”
Greg laughed. “Cool, give me the lottery numbers.”
It was nice to have the three of us back to normal. Greg and I were just friends at the moment. Having his mother watch our dogs while we worked was the only benefit either of us was getting. Greg wanted to change that, and if I were honest with myself, so did I. The memory of the one kiss we’d shared still crept up on me at odd times, creating a burning need I wasn’t ready to satisfy. “Relax, Dave. I don’t think anyone is trying to kill me this time.”
“No spooks on the horizon?”
“Can’t promise that, partner. There’s always crazies on the horizon.”
We finished the drive in silence, each of us lost in our own thoughts. The cases that crossed our desk were mentally and emotionally draining, but when it became personal it was a thousand times worse, and the last two cases had been very personal. First, my twin brother’s murder. Then, a serial killer and his twisted brother who almost killed the three of us. I’d only been back on the streets a month, and it would be nice if Park had a simple case of greed or jealousy. Something easy to solve, and understandable.